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Russia to Mine on the Moon by 2020

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the no-shortage-of-volunteer-workers dept.

Moon 145

sxmjmae writes to tell us News.com is reporting that Russia has unveiled plans to establish a permanent mining operation on the moon by 2020 in order to extract the rare isotope Helium-3. From the article: "Helium-3 is a non-radioactive isotope of helium that can be used in nuclear fusion. Rare on earth but plentiful on the moon, it is seen by some experts as an ideal fuel because it is powerful, non-polluting and generates almost no radioactive by-product."

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Had to be said.. (5, Funny)

Tha_Big_Guy23 (603419) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562138)

Let's go ahead and get this one out of the way...

In Soviet Russia, the moon mines you...

I like it better this way... (3, Funny)

Elyjah (108222) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563130)

In Soviet Russia, MINE moons YOU!

Re:Had to be said.. (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563756)

Your comment seems especially apt, given the fact that this purported "ideal fuel" doesn't actually fuel anything: There is nothing that "burns" this fuel to produce useful work/energy.

All I gotta say is... (3, Funny)

topical_surfactant (906185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562139)

...good luck getting there. Moon landings require the combustion of huge piles of money.

Re:All I gotta say is... (2, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562303)

Moon landings require the combustion of huge piles of money.

Yeah, but a huge pile of Russian money isn't so bad...

-jcr

Re:All I gotta say is... (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562794)

Because we all know Russia is poor and has never been to space...

Re:All I gotta say is... (0)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562980)

Russia IS poor, and has never been to the moon.

Re:All I gotta say is... (5, Informative)

WinkyN (263806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563726)

Russia may be poor, but their predecessors the Soviets landed unmanned probes on the lunar surface. Here's a Wikipedia link for those missions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luna_programme [wikipedia.org]

Many of the attempts failed, but later missions return lunar rock and dust samples as well as included robotic rovers to move across the lunar surface.

Re:All I gotta say is... (1)

bbc (126005) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563937)

"Russia IS poor, and has never been to the moon."

Who on earth modded you UP for such an obvious error? Russia has been to the moon many times. (Unless you want to argue semantics, as it was the Soviet Union, not Russia. Still the same people though.)

Re:All I gotta say is... (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563154)

Unless of course you're Andy Griffith, in which case you can do the whole thing in your back yard.

WHAT? (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562156)

Haven't they seen THIS!!!!

For real, super scary..

Re:WHAT? (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562211)

This is scary why? This is great science being put forward. The moon is just a big rock spinning around the earth, if we mine it it'll be no different than mining our own planet.

Of course I can bet there will be some rediculous disputes where certain people will claim the moon belongs to the US or something..

Re:WHAT? (1)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562451)

According to Wikipedia, a treaty was proposed to "restrict the exploitation of the Moon's resources" and was signed by a number of countries, none of those countries, however, being among the space-faring nations. So perhaps Russia is on solid ground, legally speaking, at least, as would be the U.S. if they proposed a similar endeavor. Space Race version 2.0, anyone?

Re:WHAT? (1)

jfdawes (254678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562816)

Let me get this straight. A bunch of countries that can't mine the moon said that they wouldn't?

1) Refuse to mine the moon
2) ???
3) Profit!

Cool.

I also refuse to mine the moon! ... Am I a country now?

Re:WHAT? (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562988)

I think you mean THIS! [space1999.org]

Re:WHAT? (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563884)

No, I think you mean THIS! [geocities.com]

Straight from the horse's mouth. (2, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562160)


Some more information about this endeavor can be found here [pravda.ru] .

Re:Straight from the Monkey's ass... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563106)

More like straight from Google. [google.com]

The first link. Imagine that. You missed first post by about 2 minutes, though.

Re:Straight from the horse's mouth. (2, Funny)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563207)

Here is a top scientist from the Russian Space Agency explaining why [rathergood.com] they want to go to the moon so badly.

I love russia (5, Insightful)

inter alias (947885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562165)

Even if they don't make it there (I think they will), they will reinvigorate the space race. I hope.

Re:I love russia (3, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562296)

You said it before I could- I was thinking the same thing. Wouldn't it be nice if the US launched a science education initiuative in response to this?
Maybe I am an idealist, but what if all the countries of the world got all their best minds together in a sort of Manhatten Project to find alternative sources of clean energy, and had the technology be open source?

Re:I love russia (1)

tealover (187148) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562800)

You've been watching too many classic coke commercials

Re:I love russia (1)

NerdOfTheNorth (828116) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563007)

Hopefully this time 'round, they'll be able to bypass that whole "creating terrifying weapons of mass destruction" thing.

Re:I love russia (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563618)

You're an idealist, and that's simply not realistic. If everyone worked together, certain countries wouldn't be able to exercise their power over other countries. In addition, if alternative sources of energy were found which were plentiful, then the world order would utterly collapse.

For instance, the USA wouldn't be able to keep their dollar overvalued by maintaining control over a scarce energy commodity (oil). Its economy would collapse, and would never recover since, with a devalued dollar (in relation to foreign currencies), it wouldn't be able to import necessities like food. It couldn't keep its economy afloat with its two main professions: lawyers and real estate agents. No normal country, on a level playing field, could possibly survive if all its people do are sell each other houses and sue each other. Then, most of the population would starve to death because no one even knows how to do anything for themselves any more, like grow food or raise chickens, much less maintain their own vehicle, maintain their house, etc.

On the other side, Iran and the other middle eastern countries wouldn't want such an energy source because then their economies, also dependant on oil, would also collapse, and their governments wouldn't be able to stay in power. Their leaders wouldn't be able to realize their dream of turning the world into a fundamentalist Islamic state with women forced to cover their faces and young girls having their vaginas sewn shut.

As you can see, having clean, plentiful energy sources is not in the interests of many powerful people on the planet. Hopefully, however, the people who are interested can overcome this obstacle and make it happen anyway, even if it does mean some economies collapsing.

Re:I love russia (3, Insightful)

T-Ranger (10520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563869)

As the US is a net importer of oil, reduction in oil consumption would, if anything, increase the value of the dollar.

Re:I love russia (1)

djdavetrouble (442175) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562586)

Meanwhile the planet goes to hell.....

Re:I love russia (1)

erotic piebald (449107) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562943)

Of course, one of major underlying factors in the planet's going to hell is a lack of cheap, non-polluting, cheap, safe, cheap power in the form of fusion-generated electricity. Once we get cheap, non-polluting, safe, fusion-generated electricity, we (all 6+ billion of us) can exploit this planet the way it was meant to be exploited without killing ourselves in the process. All wealth flows from the availability of cheap power.

And further... (4, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562177)

The International Space Station (ISS) would play a key role in the project and a regular transport relay to the moon would be established with the help of the planned Clipper spaceship and the Parom, a space capsule intended to tug heavy cargo containers around space, Mr Sevastyanov said.

"Then we will be able to drop bombs on... is microphone still on?"

Re:And further... (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562328)

They wouldn't need to drop bombs, rocks would do. Read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" R.A.Heinlein. Support your local used bookshop.

Re:And further... (2, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562338)

Who needs bombs, when you've got deorbitable cargo containers? Just change the trajectory.

Re:And further... (1)

tsalaroth (798327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562779)

After all, she IS a harsh mistress...

Re:And further... (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563082)

Who needs bombs, when you've got deorbitable cargo containers? Just change the trajectory.

Deorbitable Cargo Containers? Pssh. Throw Rocks at 'em.

Re:And further... (2, Insightful)

jfdawes (254678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562838)

Isn't the ISS actually in a really bad orbit to participate in any sort of earth moon transfers?

Anyone?

Maybe... (5, Insightful)

doctor_nation (924358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562186)

If the energy companies (i.e. oil) can be convinced that fusion is the next big energy source, I can see them ponying up the dollars to make this happen. Big investment up front for an even bigger possible return later on. It would certainly be easier to generate funds for doing this for business that it will be/is for scientific purposes.

Re:Maybe... (4, Interesting)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562342)

I respectfully disagree- I think if the world's governments all got together to find a renewable clean energy source, they could do it quicker. It would certainly lead to more peace on Earth, with China and India clammoring for Oil... (What was that Val Kilmer movie with the cold fusion where he wore the masks, and they gave the technology to the world for free?)
It sucks that we spend so much effort, blood, money etc on fossil fuels. Maybe I'm a dreamer, but if we could solve the energy problem, we could devote so much more time to science and discovery...

The Saint (2, Informative)

VampireByte (447578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562487)

What was that Val Kilmer movie with the cold fusion where he wore the masks, and they gave the technology to the world for free?


That movie would be The Saint [imdb.com] . It's okay... Elisabeth Shue looks really cute playing a nerdy scientist in glasses and kneesocks.

Re:The Saint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563654)

Actually, for much of the movie, she's wearing some nice black tights. I wish I worked with cute women wearing short skirts and tights...

Re:Maybe... (4, Informative)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562878)

I think if the world's governments all got together to find a renewable clean energy source
Clean is debatable. Oil was considered clean back when the alternative was a horse crapping on the street or coal powered boilers.

We think fusion, wind, solar, etc. are clean simply because we haven't put much thought into what would happen if everyone used it on a massive scale.

For example, we know that wind and solar impact the local microclimate but we don't really have much data on their impact on a wider scale.

Better than oil? Certainly, but nothing is free and everything will have some kind of negative impact.

Re:Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563725)

Maybe I'm a dreamer, but if we could solve the energy problem, we could devote so much more time to science and discovery...

You're a dreamer. What makes you think anyone is actually interested in discovery?

For instance, here in the USA, we don't need to discover anything, because we already know the Truth. Jesus is savior, and the world is 6000 years old, and evolution is false and made up by Satan and sinful to discuss. Everything we need to know is in the Bible, so there's no need to discover anything else, and this science stuff is just getting in the way and distracting people from saving their souls.

Also, why bother discovering anything when you can just watch sports on TV all day and drink beer and eat chips?

Re:Maybe... (1)

lord sibn (649162) | more than 8 years ago | (#14564066)

I agree completely! and while we are at it, let's change the national currency (pounds, dollars, cruzados, etc) into leaves. That will make everybody a lot richer, and enhance the quality of life all around!

No, seriously. A cheap, clean energy source is not market friendly. It requires a major industry to just "go away." You want to know why cheap, clean energy is not the norm yet? Ask the Benjamins. The simple fact is that governments are not in control. It is the industries that really control them, and the industries intend to rage against the dying of the light.

The technology is there. Why is it not being implemented? The market chooses the cheaper solution. The ideal solution wants too much money. Not to mention that the new market is already out of business. If light bulbs lasted for 80 years, there would be virtually no new light bulb purchases. Ever. It is not the governments calling the shots, here. It is the money.

Re:Maybe... (1)

dredson (620914) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563581)

All assuming, of course, that The Powers That Be even want to advance as opposed to just maintaining the bottom line. Business as usual. Free energy for all means oil executives need to find a different way of making money.

Re:Maybe... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14564834)

One problem. He3 Fusion is more difficult than De+Tr fusion and we haven't made that in to a practical system. He3 will just produce fewer neutrons which is a plus but it isn't a magic bullet.

Great energy source! (4, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562187)

Assuming, of course, you have, like, a working fusion reactor.

Two points for forward planning, I guess.

Isn't there Helium-3 in the Earth's mantle? Could we go after that? Build one of them there driller vehicles.

Re:Great energy source! (2, Funny)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562237)

Not to mention stringing a power line between here and there.

Re:Great energy source! (2, Funny)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562569)

Maybe a space elevator could double as as a a "space extension cord." Or maybe we could beam the energy back with a REALLY strong laser which is converted back to electricity here on Earth.

-matthew

Re:Great energy source! (2, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562989)

If we could come up with a gen-u-wine room temperature superconductor, we could just weave some into the space elevator, beam the power to the station from other satellites, and run the power that way... And if I grew wings, I could fly home...

Re:Great energy source! (1)

jgbehrmann (202236) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563063)

> Maybe a space elevator could double as as a a "space extension cord." Or maybe we could beam the energy back with a REALLY strong laser which is converted back to electricity here on Earth.

That's just what we need, Russia with a large amount of energy and a *really* big laser sitting on the moon.

"Okay now, turn it on... Oops, sorry about that USA, you didn't need New York City, did you? It was an honest mistake. We're working on that targetting. Hold on, let's try that again..." Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Re:Great energy source! (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14564875)

Isn't carbon nanotube a really good conductor?

Can they use Helium-3 yet? (5, Insightful)

dannytaggart (835766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562205)

Do they have a working prototype of a Helium-3 power plant? I have a feeling this is an Energia propaganda piece.

Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14562217)

Where will the money come from? More space (Moon?) tourists? It seems like a very expensive proposition, even if they do plan on using the ISS as a rely base (which, as the article says, will require the development of planned transport vessels). Also, we're talking about nuclear fusion, which, AFAIK, still has a long way to go technologically. Right? Will it be feasible to talk about fusion in 2020?

Re:Money? (3, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562482)


Where will the money come from?

Here [guardian.co.uk] , among other sources...

Re:Money? (1)

TWooster (696270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563645)

Damn the Guardian!

Helping out the reds! I knew their color scheme wasn't for nothin'.

Re:Money? (1)

wronkiew (529338) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563252)

Where will the money come from?

The more interesting question is this: when Saudi Arabia dries up and Russia is powering the globe with their He-3 fusion reactors supplied by cargo tugs from the Moon, what will they spend all their money on?

It is admittedly a high risk project, but every spacefaring country should be actively investigating this.

A bit early perhaps (5, Informative)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562260)

Nuclear fusion is not expected by 2020, so it's a bit premature.

Helium-3 is also not necessary to archive fusion. Deuterium-tritium reactions will also work, and you don't have to go to the moon to get those elements. Deuterium can be extracted from the sea and tritium can be created in situ by reactions with lithium embedded in the wall of the reactor.
The benefit of using helium 3 is that you bypass the radioactive element tritium.

It's a good idea for the long term, but let us first try to get a working reactor, shall we?

Re:A bit early perhaps (5, Insightful)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562336)

The benefit of using helium 3 is that you bypass the radioactive element tritium.

Why? When has a radioactive element ever caused any problems in Russia?

Re:A bit early perhaps (1)

TWooster (696270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563614)

Ahahah.

Why was that modded insightful?

Some people need to read up on Chornobyl [wikipedia.org] .

Re:A bit early perhaps (2, Insightful)

T-Ranger (10520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563837)

Chornobyl is in the Ukraine. There are at least two classes of people who would find you squashing them together offensive, I call them "Russians" and "Ukrainians".

Re:A bit early perhaps (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14564388)

As he said (literally): Problem in Russia?? No.

And nationalities are not classes. Read Stalin's writings on The National Question.

Re:A bit early perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563879)

Who are the fucking toolbags that modded insightful? They should never be allowed mod points again, and be exiled to Ukraine with extreme prejudice.

It wasn't that long ago, dammit.

Re:A bit early perhaps (4, Informative)

barawn (25691) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562400)

The benefit of using helium 3 is that you bypass the radioactive element tritium.

The benefit of Helium-3 is that its fusion reaction is aneutronic. This means that the containing vessel wouldn't be irradiated, and it's more efficient - that is, it should be easier to generate ignition with Helium-3 than with a similar fuel that wouldn't be aneutronic.

The downside, of course, is that the reaction involved is D+He3, which means you'd have D+D, and He3-He3 side reactions, and D+D does give off neutrons. And D+He3 takes higher temperatures than D+T. So it's a little - um - daring for the Russians to be saying this, although it's not impossible to believe that given a supply of He3, there'd be economic incentive to build a freaking big fusion reactor.

Re:A bit early perhaps (2, Interesting)

sprprsnmn (619113) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562781)

Why couldn't you build a reactor only using He3-He3 reactions? Wouldn't that be aneutronic as well?

Re:A bit early perhaps (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562723)

It's not the tritium that's the problem in DT fusion. Not at all. Tritium degrades rather quickly into helium-3 (12.3 year half life) and has many safe uses.

Instead, it is the 14 MeV neutron generated by a DT reaction that is the problem.
D + T -> n (14.07 MeV) + He^4 (3.52 MeV)

Those 14 MeV neutrons are lethal, and they can only be contained by thick shields. Even in a standard fusion reactor with Tungsten inner shield walls, calculations in my plasma science courses years ago showed that, on average, every single atom in the shield wall lattice would be displaced every few months by the bombardment of neutrons. This renders the shield wall A) structurally unstable and in need of replacement, and B) most likely radioactive.

He^3 is preferred because its reaction, while emitting less power, produces only easy-to-control protons and larger, slower, non-radioactive Helium-4 nucleii.
He^3 + He^3 -> 2p + He^4 (12.9 MeV)

(And we'll get a working reactor eventually, maybe, with a Tokamak, but I bet it will come sooner if we'd give up on that technology and look at some of the other ideas that have been tossed aside in its pursuit.)

Re:A bit early perhaps (1)

Corbu Mulak (931063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563097)

I thought the benefits of using Helium-3 was mobile suits and beam weapons...

Re:A bit early perhaps (1)

dbombarc (208030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563778)

Well, why not stockpile Helium-3 now? It is at least a lot smarter than the US trying to stockpile oil, a soon-to-be obsolete resource.

wikipedia (4, Informative)

seann (307009) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562293)

Wikipedias Helium-3 [wikipedia.org] article.

For people who were as clueless as I was.

WikiNigger (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14562663)

Fuck off and die, cocksucker.

Re:WikiNigger (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563086)

Wikipedias cocksucker [wikipedia.org] article.

Re:wikipedia (1)

SpacialCoogs (946601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563275)

"is thought to be".....

"The power to tax, once conceded, has no limits" (3, Interesting)

Froze (398171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562297)

The moon is a harsh mistress p231, Robert A. Heinlein:

I really hope that this turns out to be realistic. If an industry can be built around going to and from the moon then space will become a corporate endevour. Which means that we will soon have all manner of neat science/engineering going on from lunar telescopes (observing at all frequencies) to mass drivers (rail guns for cargo) to a 1/6 gravity New Las Vegas lunar resort - at costs more reasonable than big government budgets.

Exciting news indeed IF (thats a really big if) this is not just another governmental pipedream.

How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (5, Interesting)

Tragek (772040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562324)

How much mass would have to be removed from the moon (percentage wise) before there would be a noticable effect on the orbit of the moon, or the tides. Which would come first?

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562385)

How much mass would have to be added to the earth to slow our rotation?

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (1)

glug101 (911527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562570)

Tides would be affected first. The orbit of the moon is no reliant on it's mass. However, the pull of the moon DOES create a SLIGHT wobble to the Earth/Moon system, and this would be affected my a change in mass of the moon. But I think that being concerned about such a small change would be anal enough to make one a slashdot reader.

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562589)

That is a very good question, since the orbit of the moon is "growing". In other words, the moon is getting further away. Eventually, the moon will be at such a distance that it will no longer be within Earth's grasp. At that point, the Earth's "wobble" will likely become unstable (Like a 90 degree wobble, resulting in severe climate changes like the ice caps moving around the world. "Hey, what's this glacier doing here in the middle of the Sahara?")
 
I think I speak for most of the planet when I say that I don't want anything expediting this process, so here is my solution, for every amount of mass removed from the moon, we replace it with an equivalent amount of nuclear waste. Maybe we can even add some additional mass to stabilize the orbit.

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562911)

here is my solution, for every amount of mass removed from the moon, we replace it with an equivalent amount of nuclear waste

three reasons this is a bad idea:

  1. It costs $5,000 to $10,000 per pound to orbit with current technologies.
  2. If your spacecraft blows up, instant nuclear rain!
  3. We could be building breeder reactors and reusing our waste.

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (2, Insightful)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563372)

I have the answer to 1 and 2: Mass drivers and sufficiently sturdy containers

For 3, I agree. We should be using breeders. But to use the US Government line: "Are you crazy? That's how you make weapons-grade plutonium!" Nevermind that not all breeders make weapons-grade plutonium, though...

On a tangent, I have long thought that we should be tapping into some of the energy created by disposing of waste. I live near a large oil refinery that has two flare stacks that at least one has a visible flame going almost year-round. Why don't we tap into the heat generated by burning the waste to generate electricity (to be sold into the power grid)? Then, we aren't just burning waste, it is actually being productive (disregarding pollution issues since they're burning it anyway), and it is additional electricity for the grid, reducing the amount of fuel needed by the regular power plants (and reducing the usage of "peaker" plants that activate when demand exceeds normal production limits). Just a thought.

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14564933)

The moon's orbit is growing because of the tidal interaction between it and Earth. The moon's orbit grows as it slows our rotation. So what you should REALLY be worrying about is what happens when Earth starts rotating once every few months. Might get rather warm, then rather cold. The moon won't escape Earth's grasp though.

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (2, Insightful)

raptor_87 (881471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562598)

A lot. The moon is (IIRC) a bit over 1% of the mass of the earth. And it's mostly stuff like iron, oxygen, aluminum, and silicon. Long term and large scale mining *might* cause changes measurable with a good atomic clock (I'm feeling too lazy to calculate), but the amounts of mass needed are sufficiently large to be safely ignored for the duration of He-3 mining...

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14562895)

I'm sure we off-balance what we take by bringing heavy stuff to the moon. With all this fusion going on we should be able to afford it, and it is hydrogen we are taking after all.

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (4, Interesting)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563182)

The mass of the Moon is [nasa.gov] ~7,349,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms.

To cart away even one millionth of one percent of the moon would require staggering amounts of energy. By the time we're dealing with that kind of energy, if we ever can (which I have my doubts about, at least in any way that would be useful for this task), I think we will be able to deal with the consequences.

Are you worried about whether if we do too much mining, we'll run out of crust on the Earth? Worrying about the Moon's mass is even sillier, since while there may be less moon, you're talking about actually removing the mass, something Earth mines don't have to do.

You'd also be talking about cosmic levels of heat here, because said "staggering amounts of energy" can't just disappear. Assuming you're talking about moving bits of the Moon to Earth (and not just flinging it uselessly into space) since the Earth is lower in a gravity well, all the mass will pick up the difference in gravitational potential between the Earth and the Moon, 100% in heat (since it won't move on the surface of the Earth, at least not for long). If you moved any cosmically significant amount of the Moon to the Earth, you'd make the surface of the Earth incandescent. (The exact temperature would vary depending on how much mass you're talking, but if you want to have some fun, take the gravitational potential difference of 1% of the mass of the moon, compute how much energy that is, then see how much heat that would add. It's a Big Number.) Until such time as Mankind is so powerful as to be able to revoke the laws of conservation of energy, at which point you can't predict effects anyhow, no significant amount of the Moon is going to get to Earth, at least not with a biosphere on Earth left to care.

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (1)

sploxx (622853) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563782)

You'd also be talking about cosmic levels of heat here, because said "staggering amounts of energy" can't just disappear. Assuming you're talking about moving bits of the Moon to Earth (and not just flinging it uselessly into space) since the Earth is lower in a gravity well, all the mass will pick up the difference in gravitational potential between the Earth and the Moon, 100% in heat (since it won't move on the surface of the Earth, at least not for long).

No. The energy WILL disappear. Do not forget radiated heat. We won't send all the mass down at once, of course!

Or are you think the global warming is driven directly by the heat released when burning fossil fuels??

Anyway, back to topic, this is - as already said - of course only transparent propaganda without any working fusion plant.

Ahh, but, maybe, ... well we already HAVE a plan for working fusion power plant!
Just ignite hydrogen bombs in the upper atmosphere and capture the emitted light with solar cells on the ground. Yay, working fusion power ;-)

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563936)

No. The energy WILL disappear. Do not forget radiated heat. We won't send all the mass down at once, of course!

Across what, millions of years?

One way or another, you're dealing with huge numbers. Plus, since the rate of heat dissipation is proportional to the heat difference, if you insist on keeping the biosphere livable the entire time (spoilsport!), you're going to add some more factors of magnitude to the time it takes to dissipate the heat since you can't raise the temperature very far before it's unlivable down here; just a few hundred degrees renders the entire place unlivable. (And in this context "a few hundred degrees" is indeed "just".) We'd be engulfed by the sun long before we could move any significant amount of the moon to Earth. Yeah, I didn't do the math, but with these factors of magnitude involved, it's a safe bet.

(The Earth can actually hold onto heat pretty well, after all. Several billion years and only the top few miles have solidified; the rest remains really [nodak.edu] ,
really [nodak.edu] hot.)

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (1)

sploxx (622853) | more than 8 years ago | (#14564151)

Across what, millions of years?

The fact that it gets cold at night (no sunlight!) should convince you that that the timescale is much smaller here.

Plus, since the rate of heat dissipation is proportional to the heat difference,

You're thinking 'conduction'. Radiative transport goes with T^4. Additionally, you have a nearly perfect heat sink at only a few K temperature (space). Look up Stefan-Boltzmann law [wikipedia.org] .

The rest of your argumentation is invalidated by this.

Re:How much mining? Orbital vectors etc.... (1)

Tragek (772040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14564660)

Meh. Twas an idle question formed out of fancy. I knew little enough about the subject to wonder.

2020? (3, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562358)

Russia to mine the moon, Sweden to abandon fossil fuels... It seems like 2020 is a popular year today. I wonder if I'll have my flying car by then.

Re:2020? (1)

gooman (709147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562909)

20/20 - Its a vision thing.

Ownership of the Moon (3, Funny)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562362)

I thought that the U.S. owned the moon, but I guess I was wrong.

Turns out, this guy does:

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/business/m oon_sale_000915.html [space.com]

Re:Ownership of the Moon (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562701)

$27.15 is a lot to pay for a indefensible claim to lunar land. Even for a "gag" gift. But then I guess if people are willing to pay money to name a star....

-matthew

Nonexistent Fusion Powerplants Notwithstanding... (1)

utexaspunk (527541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562469)

Why would a base need to be established, or humans even need to be sent, when all is needed is a robot. If we can send a probe to drive around Mars and take samples and analyze them, or to collect particles from comets and bring them back, we should be capable of sending a robot to the Moon that can mine for He-3, put it in a capsule, and launch it back to Earth, where it could either re-enter the atmosphere to land on US soil or be guided into orbit and then picked up by a shuttle. Or you could even build this Nonexistent Fusion Powerplant in space (hey! on the Moon!) and do what you want with the limitless energy...

Well, if you assume a 2nd gen fusion powerplant... (1)

raptor_87 (881471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562621)

...a self assembling mining operation might be reasonable.

Re:Nonexistent Fusion Powerplants Notwithstanding. (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562821)

I gotta ask... What exactly do you expect to happen when said robot fails to work correctly?

Currently we leave the robot wherever they failed since we have no way of reclaiming them. On the moon however... We are far closer and could reclaim a borken robot. I would think though simply keeping a small team on hand would likely be more effecient than shipping crews up when needed.

Great news (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562532)

I've always thought that the first melting pot landing on the moon would be much more important than the first person. Mining the moon carries great potential. (I've also wondered what a mining shaft on the moon would "feel like", I mean would there also be an increase in temerature as you get closer to the core).

Oh well, back to reality: no way this plan will succeed, fundings will be cut as usual.

Helium-3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14562597)

While I admire the Russians ambition in planning to mine Helium-3 from the Moon within the next 15 years, I have to wonder... Has anyone actually proved that a Helium-3 based fusion reactor works? Haven't heard of any.

Russian Moon Program (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14562642)

Russia never made it (manned flight w/return) to the Moon before. What makes them think they can do it now?

The International Space Station is certainly not going to be of any help. It was cleverly put into the very wrong orbit for Lunar travel.

Worth it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563017)

I once heard that if fort knox were on the moon, it would cost more to get the gold than the gold is worth. Is this really the cheapest/only way to get triteum?

Re:Worth it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563824)

Well, gold is a relatively heavy material. Helium-3, not quite so much.

No idea on whether it is cost-effective or not, or if this is just a way to generate interest in (and therefore funding for) their space program.

now for the hard part (1)

omegashenron (942375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563096)

now for the hard part: - designing and building a launch/return vehicle - designing and building any robotic systems to be used for actual mining (assuming non-manned mission) - generating funds to do the above somehow I don't think this will be happening for some time. After all shouldn't we have been living on the moon in moon-bases already?

Does Bush know? (1)

uncoveror (570620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563185)

Bush had a tizzy, and insisted that America must return to the moon [uncoveror.com] when he learned that the Chinese were planning to go. Now that the Russians are thinking the same thing and even want a permanent base, can he get to the green cheese in time?

Is strip mining the moon a good idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563802)

They're suggesting playing with the mass of something that plays an important role in tides on Earth.
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